New restaurant 16 Mile Taphouse promises a ‘palate revolution’
Published: Monday, September 30, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 30, 2013 23:09
The general manager of the 16 Mile Taphouse, Dustin Gros, said when the restaurant first opened on Main Street, they did not advertise or host an official grand opening for the first 2 and 1/2 weeks, but it was still as crowded as if they had actually had a grand opening.
“It was good, and it was stressful at the same time,” Gros said. “But it really showed us that people were eager for something new on Main Street.”
The owners of the 16 Mile Brewing Company Inc. in Georgetown, Del., Chad Campbell and Brett McCrea, partnered with Jim Bauerle, owner of the Stone Balloon Winehouse, to create the 16 Mile Taphouse. Gros said he was also the general manager of the Stone Balloon Winehouse, and they made the change to make the restaurant more accessible to the public.
Gros said the restaurant had its official grand opening on Sept. 19. Before the restaurant’s transformation into the 16 Mile Taphouse, the restaurant was known as The Stone Balloon Winehouse, and before that, the Stone Balloon.
“This spot is a very historic spot,” Gros said. “The old Stone Balloon stood here once, and in the days of old, anyone from Bruce Springsteen to The Rolling Stones played on this sight.”
Claus Hagelman, the sales and marketing director of the 16 Mile Brewery, said since he moved to Delaware, he has loved watching Main Street evolve.
Hagelman said he has a favorite T-shirt from the 1980s that says, “The Stories’ Unwritten,” which reminds him of The 16 Mile Taphouse. He said he believes the story is still unwritten for the new taphouse, and he said he hopes more will open in the future.
“You go on Main Street now, and it looks more like a strip that could be in New York City, so we just became another part of that story,” Hagelman said. “It’s a beautiful space, it’s a comfortable, fun space and you’ve got a lot of people that can help teach you about good beer, good wine and good local food.”
The wine list is extensive and the 16 Mile Taphouse will still offer the 20 wines available by the glass from the old Stone Balloon Winehouse through a Cruvinet system, a temperature-controlled system which keeps wines fresh, Gros said. He said in addition to the 16 Mile English-style beers, with an American craft twist, they offer 135 other cans and bottles.
Hagelman said the 16 Mile Brewery makes their beer with 6 percent alcohol, which is the optimum content for the alcohol to become part of the flavor profile, rather than being overpowered or not being able to taste the alcohol at all.
The business drives the “palate revolution” and once people educate their palates, they can not go back, Hagelman said. He said the new 16 Mile Taphouse can be described as a gastropub, a place that serves high-quality beer and food.
“I don’t know, maybe it’s a hipster term,” Hagelman said. “We wanted to showcase that philosophy of educating the palate, while having fun, and this is a chance for us to do that.”
Director of Tourism Linda Parkowski said shopping and dining are two activities tourists spend money on while in Delaware, due to tax free shopping and excellent culinary offerings.
She said the Department of Tourism gives businesses six months to a year before adding them to the Delaware Wine and Ale Trail, which is popular to the visiting public. The 16 Mile Brewery is already on the trail, she said.
“They’re actually virtual trails, and we picked different subjects revolving around activities tourists like to do when they’re in the state of Delaware,” Parkowski said. “Delaware has a large proportion of breweries, so that’s why we created the Wine and Ale Trail.”
Senior Andrew Mild said he thinks 16 Mile Taphouse customers will mostly be in their late 20s or 30s. However, he said he thinks the restaurant will attract students wanting a certain type of atmosphere.
“Less quality beer at a better price is what people are going to buy,” Mild said. “If this were purely a grad student town, then maybe it would be the opposite. Occasionally, I’ll drive to Two Stones Pub because that’s where a lot of the grad students go, and it’s really quiet there, so for people wanting a quieter atmosphere they may go to 16 Mile.”
Senior Katherine Horisk said she thinks the 16 Mile Taphouse will need to carefully consider their prices and how they advertise to students.
“It’s all about the happy hour,” Horisk said. “I work full-time, and I go to school full-time and I live in Wilmington. I still work, but I think a lot of college students want that cheap beer, so they have to be smart about advertising their stuff.”
Because he wants to tap into the student demographic, Gros said he wants to advertise the Growlers, a one-half gallon of beer that you can take with you anytime, that the restaurant offers.
Gros said the restaurant’s executive chef, Sean Howell, has created a menu meant to be accessible to anyone. He said the menu ranges from a basic burger and beer to items geared toward special occasions and celebrations.
Gros said he wants to make one thing clear about the new 16 Mile Taphouse.
“There is literally something for everybody,” Gros said. “As far as the students go, our main goal is to be, you know—we have this beautiful space, and we don’t want that to be intimidating to anybody. They can come in here and be treated the same way as anybody that wants to spend $1,000.”